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    Ex-mayor Sharpe James won't be getting pension benefits for his last year as an Essex County College professor, a court ruled.

    An appeals court has refused to reinstate a year of retirement benefits for a former Newark mayor who worked as an Essex County College professor, ruling that it was reasonable for the pension program to strip Sharpe James of those earnings because of his federal conviction

    sharpe-james-released-from-prisonjpg-a21dd43f35b3f387_large.jpgA 2008 file photo of Sharpe James.
     

    James, Newark's mayor for 20 years who served 18 months in prison, called the Appellate Division decision "ludicrous and an insult to justice and fair play," he told NJ Advance Media in an email. 

    At issue was James' yearlong service as a senior fellow and municipal government professor for Essex County College's Urban Issues Institute between 2006-07. He earned $150,000 in a position created specially for him, according to the case. 

    Prior to becoming Newark's mayor, James worked at Essex County College for 18 years as a physical education instructor, eventually chairing the department, according to court papers. He returned to the college in 2006 at the end of his mayoral term. 

    The New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits revoked his pension earnings for his last year at the college, citing that James' conviction by a jury on mail fraud charges was a betrayal of public trust and brought dishonor on his teaching position, according to court records. 

    An administrative law judge initially ruled that the credits should be applied because the misconduct "did not involve greed or personal enrichment and did not result in financial loss to the citizens of Newark."

    But the Division of Pensions and Benefits rejected that argument. James appealed, arguing in court that the conviction was unrelated to his role at the college.

    The Appellate Division subsequently upheld the decision by the Division of Pensions and Benefits. The three-judge panel wrote that it was reasonable to conclude that James' "misconduct as mayor brought dishonor on his position at ECC, where he served as a teacher and role model to college students."

    In a lengthy response to NJ Advance Media, James insisted he should have been a free man. One of the key charges against him -- theft of honest services -- was overturned by an appeals court after he served his time behind bars. His conviction on four other counts were upheld in the high-profile case in which James was accused of questionable land deals with a close, personal friend that he did not disclose his relationship with.

    James wrote to NJ Advance Media that denying "his exemplary earned pension at Essex County College from July 1, 2006 through July 1, 2007, when he had not been charged with any wrongdoing, no unfavorable press, no indictment and being praised widely by the administration, faculty, students and community is unwarranted and unfair."

    Karen Yi may be reached at kyi@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook


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    Eight days before the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in Memphis, the slain civil rights leader came to Newark and spoke at several churches and at South Side High School, which is now Malcolm X Shabazz. Those who saw him on March 27, 1968, offer their recollections on the 50th anniversary of his death.

    Winthrop McGriff had no idea he was talking to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during a telephone conversation in December 1967.

    McGriff, now 67 and living in Linden, was just 17 years old and had just been elected senior class president at Newark's South Side High School.  He wanted to bring a dynamic speaker to the school, so the student body could hear an inspiring message before they graduated in June 1968, the following year.

    He didn't know what to do until his grandfather, the late Rev. William McGriff, of Canaan Baptist Church in Newark, gave him a piece of paper with a phone number.         

    "He said call that number and ask for Mr. King,'' McGriff recalls, still not realizing it belonged to the slain civil rights leader.

    MORE: Recent Barry Carter columns 

    McGriff said King answered the call as if he was a staff worker at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. After a few moments, when King finally revealed his identity, "I dropped the phone,'' McGriff said. "I said, 'Oh, Lord.' "

    Once he gathered himself, McGriff said King honored his request after he learned that the elder McGriff was his grandfather.  Three months later, King was in Newark standing in front of a packed high school auditorium on March 27, 1968. It would be his last visit to the city.

    Eight days later, King was shot and killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.

    As we approach 50 years since his death on Wednesday, the visit still resonates as a life-changing moment for those who saw him at the school and other venues that day, including the Robert Treat Hotel, New Jersey Bell, United Community Corp. and several churches.

    At South Side, McGriff introduced King to the student body, but remembers how, with a poetic delivery, he stressed to his classmates the importance of an education.

    "Don't burn baby burn, so you can learn baby learn,'' said McGriff, who sat on stage behind King.

    "I took those words to mean that you don't let anybody tell you that you can't,'' McGriff said.

    The late Rep. Donald Payne Sr. (D-10th Dist.) was also in the audience that day. Sitting next to him in the front row was his friend, Harvey Geller, now 73, of Rye, N.Y. Payne invited Geller, an employee at Prudential at the time, and both men are forever captured in a memorable picture that hangs on his office wall.

    "It was a life-altering experience. I never understood the power of pure oratory until that day,'' said Geller, comparing King to Biblical prophets, who "pointed out things in society that were wrong and they told people what they didn't want to hear.''

    At the time of King's visit, Newark was emerging from the 1967 riots, and the first National Conference on Black Power had been held. King was advocating economic equality and objected to America's involvement in the Vietnam War, a position that made him unpopular as he prepared for the Poor's People Campaign. That grass roots movement, which happened after he died, called for a "radical redistribution of economic and political power" for America's poor people after the Kerner Commission called for federal and state governments to create new jobs and invest billions in housing programs to combat residential segregation.

    "But 50 years after Dr. King's visit to Newark, we have made far too little progress as a nation,'' said Ryan Haygood, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

    Haygood said blacks still have double the unemployment rate of whites, and the racial wealth gap has nearly tripled. Home ownership, he said, has declined for blacks, and incarceration rates have tripled.

    "If there is a lesson for progressive people to learn from the past 50 years and today, it is this: People who care about racial and social justice cannot afford to be timid.''

    King spoke with this clarity as the moral voice of authority. After 20 minutes at South Side, he was off to several other places in the city. He met with a family that was on public assistance, visited a nursery school and talked privately with poet-activist Amiri Baraka. At some point, King headed to Orange and Jersey City before returning to Newark, where he spoke at Mount Calvary Baptist Church and then a final stop at Abyssinian Baptist Church.

    William Payne, a former assemblyman and brother of the late congressman, said he was the last person to see King leave New Jersey that day. King, who Payne had known since 1956, just finished delivering remarks at Abyssinian, where he denounced the war.

    Payne said King was tired afterward, but he had one more engagement - a fundraiser in New York with Harry Belafonte. King asked Payne to go, but he was unable to attend, and told his friend that he'd see him next time.

    Payne waved goodbye as the car carrying King pulled away. And King, looking out of the rear window, waved, as well.

    "It was the last time I would see him alive. I can see it like it was yesterday,'' said Payne.

    MORE CARTER: Newark's tribute to its persevering pro: NFL LB Tahir Whitehead | Carter

    The men first met in 1956 at the NAACP Convention in San Francisco. Payne, chairman of the organization's youth work committee, was the moderator of a plenary session in which he introduced King and A. Philip Randolph, a civil rights leader, who organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly African-American labor union.

    Payne said King was just as riveting then as he was at the Abyssinian church in Newark. With total recall, Payne, now 85, rattled off a quote from King that captured his message.

    "He said discrimination and segregation are diametrically opposed to all of the principles of democracy, and all of the dialectics of the logicians cannot make them lie down together.''

    Payne, who was then 24 year old, has a picture from that day. Medgar Evers, another civil rights leader that Payne knew, is in the photo, which could easily be a page from a history book.

    It hangs on the wall in his office at the Essex County Hall of Records, where he is deputy chief of staff for Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.

    It's a reminder for Payne as to why he remains active in social justice demonstrations, calling on people to get involved politically and not be afraid to stand up.

    "I knew the people who died for us,'' Payne said.

    King. Evers. And many more.

    "Who am I not to be involved.''

    Barry Carter: (973) 836-4925 or bcarter@starledger.com or 

    nj.com/carter or follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL


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    While local politicians are adamant an Amazon headquarters would help the state economy, experts say New Jersey has for too long relied on large corporations for revitalization. Watch video

    New Jersey's economy is still lagging the nation's, and it can't seem to catch up

    This winter, policymakers thought they might have caught a break:

    Amazon was considering moving its new HQ2 headquarters to Newark; if the online retail giant came to the state, the move would help a struggling local economy by creating new jobs and attracting new investors, they said. 

    Gov. Murphy even went so far to to describe Newark's HQ2 bid as a "once in a lifetime opportunity."

    Analysts and political leaders have described Newark as a one-of-a kind city perfect for Amazon's new home. They have boasted about the state's convenient transportation, its access to Manhattan and its research universities.

    Despite the hype, it looks as though Amazon's HQ2 might land elsewhere -- and that doesn't come as a surprise.

    Many early reports did not even rank Newark in the list of cities likely to become finalists. (Newark surpassed everyone's expectations and did indeed become a top 20 finalist). 

    But even if Newark were to become the home of Amazon's HQ2, would it really be that much of a boon? 

    Not everyone is convinced-- and in fact argue that the deal Newark offered Amazon is an extension of a policy that has done little to help New Jersey longterm, they said.

    New Jersey's government has focused too much on luring large corporations by offering massive tax breaks, said Gordon MacInnes, director of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a left-leaning think tank.

    And that strategy has not paid off, he said.

    "We are in the bottom 20 percent of states for all sorts of metrics. And we are barely at the point of recovery with all of the jobs we lost in the recession," MacInnes said.

    Many of the incentive packages have come out of Grow NJ -- a program run out of New Jersey's Economic Development Authority that gives companies tax breaks and other incentives for moving operations to New Jersey.

    "We've relied on nothing else for economic growth over the past 10 years," MacInnes said.

    The current Amazon deal would give the company up to $7 billion in tax credits for relocating to Newark --- an incentive that dwarfs the next largest package offered to a company in the state.

    That's the $390 million given to Ameream LLC and Meadow Amusement in 2013 to develop the retail and entertainment American Dream complex. It's been under construction for 10 years.

    Amazon is known for taking advantage of massive breaks in the U.S. On Thursday he slammed the company for not paying enough taxes, forcing the company's stock price to plummet.

    On this score, the President might be right. In return for the tax breaks in New Jersey, Amazon said it would create as many as 50,000 jobs with an average compensation of $100,000 for its new headquarters. But those numbers are contingent upon how many people it transfers from its Seattle office. 

    The promise of new jobs is not necessarily enough to make any meaningful economic change in New Jersey, said Kasia Tarczynska, a research analyst with Good Jobs First, a national policy resource center in Washington.

    Tarczynska said that often the policy of handing out massive incentive packages to corporations does not help unemployment and instead "pushes poverty around the state". 

    "The companies come in and they don't hire enough local people and so they have to move from these areas because prices increase," she said.

    The Christie administration championed the tax break policy and focused on getting companies to move into Camden. 

    New Jersey has handed out a total of $8.9 billion in subsidies since 1996, most of them awarded since 2010 and ending up in Camden, according to data collected by Good Jobs First and analyzed by NJ Advance Media. 

    Tarczynska noted the data on the number of people employed on each project in New Jersey is incomplete because of a lack of transparency within the local government. 

    The economy there is still flailing, MacInnes said. That's because more than half of the jobs established in New Jersey over the past 10 years were already here, he said. 

    "Moving jobs around that are already here doesn't change our future," he said.

    New Jersey needs to invest in the assets it already has, said Peter Kasabach, the executive director of New Jersey Future, a non-profit research and policy institute. 

    He said part of the reason Amazon may not move its headquarters to Newark is because the state has not done enough to focus on infrastructure, especially the transit system.

    "We haven't been investing," MacInnes said. "We've been handing out tax cuts, and that is the problem."

    Erin Banco may be reached at ebanco@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ErinBanco. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    The Turtle Back Zoo is also creating a new flamingo exhibit.

    The 1300 animals at the Turtle Back Zoo are happy, healthy, and treated well, according to a certification the family attraction received this week from a group that tracks the humane treatment of animals.

    The American Humane Conservation, a global organization that gauges the treatment of animals at zoos and aquariums, announced this week the Essex County zoo received a certification signifying its proper treatment of the lions, tigers, and bears living in its care. According to AH, zoos apply to go through a rigorous review process that includes an examination of animals' health and housing, social interactions, relationships with handlers, and the lighting, sound levels, and air quality of their habitats.

    "The American Humane Conservation program's independent, third-party audit verified Turtle Back Zoo's commitment to providing the animals under its care with the highest standards of humane, verifiable and transparent animal care," the organization's President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert said.

      05 flamingo.JPGDrawing of what the completed flamingo exhibit coming to Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange. 03/28/18 

    American Humane launched the certification in 2016. Turtle Back marks the seventeenth location in the U.S. to receive the recognition, county officials said.

    "Receiving certification from American Humane couldn't make me happier," Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said in a release. "Having the support of AH is further proof that we are committed to conservation, and raising the public's awareness about animals and their important roles in our world."

    The recognition comes at a time of expansion for the popular zoo. DiVincenzo also announced on Wednesday the zoo's plan to build a $3.2 million, 1,000-square-foot flamingo exhibit. 

    "Flamingos are a good addition to Turtle Back because we don't have many exhibits featuring birds and this will help diversity our animal family," said Turtle Back Zoo Director Michael Kerr.

    The county held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new exhibit Wednesday. It is expected to open in late summer or early fall, and house about 25 flamingos, county officials said.

    In 2017, the county reported 907,522 people visited the Turtle Back Zoo, an all-time high attendance since its opening in 1963. 

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

    Find NJ.com on Facebook

     

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    A campaign poster for Newark At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos was spray-painted with a hate symbol on Thursday.

    A swastika was spray-painted on the campaign poster of a longtime Newark councilman, who called the act "horrible" and "a message of hate" on the eve of the Easter holiday weekend. 

    Newark Police are investigating the defaced campaign banner as a bias crime and released photos of a suspect seen walking in a hooded sweatshirt. 

    "We can't live on hate because of whatever beliefs we may have or political affiliations we have," At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana told NJ Advance Media on Sunday. "We must have respect for every person."

    Newark suspect.jpgNewark Police released images of the suspect believed to be involved in the bias incident. (Courtesy: Newark Police)
     

    The poster, hung on 400 block of Broadway in the North Ward, pictured Quintana and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., urging residents to vote in the May 8 elections. Both are seeking re-election to their seats on Mayor Ras Baraka's slate. 

    But on Thursday, a blue swastika was painted over Quintana's face and Ramos' photo had also been defaced. The sign hangs about a block away from Quintana's office. 

    "I was very upset about it," said Quintana, who said he's never had this happen to a campaign poster. He was first elected in 1994. "I hope there's some justice."

    A total of 39 candidates have been certified for the city's elections -- in which all nine council seats and the mayor's term are up.

    "It is unfortunate that someone would deface a legally placed campaign sign with a symbol of hatred," Ramos said. "I have confidence in the authorities in their investigation of this incident."

    Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said the incident remained under investigation.  

    Karen Yi may be reached at kyi@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook


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    The April storm is expected to drop up to 6 inches of snow across the state.

    A quick-hitting April snow storm will leave up to 6 inches of snow across New Jersey on Monday.

    Though many schools were already off for spring break, the snow could delay school start times or force others to close. 

    The following Essex County schools are closed or have delayed openings on April 2, 2018.

    CLOSED

    • No announcements yet

    DELAYED

    • Caldwell-West Caldwell
    • Bloomfield College - 10 a.m. opening
    • Glen Ridge - 2 hours
    • The Arc of Essex County's Adult Day Programs - transportation delayed
    If you know of any delays or closures not on this list, let us know in the comments. The list will be updated when we can confirm. 
     

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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    (from gulfnews.com)

    A dog lover in Dubai is supplying fresh home-cooked meals for pets in order to provide them with an alternative to processed foods.

    Egyptian expat Nael Basily, 35, said it was his pet dog's medical condition that led him to launch the initiative 'Just Chew.'.

    Basily said his 6-year old golden retriever, Twixy, was diagnosed with cancer last November, and the vets attributed unhealthy diet and lifestyle to be one of the reasons for the ailment.

    "Back home in Cairo, I used to cook for my pet every day. But ever since I moved to Dubai two years ago, I began feeding her processed food. Although I relied only premium brands that promised the best nutrition, it was not helping her. So I decided to start cooking for her again and it's working wonders on her health and looks," said Basily.

    "There are 40 pet owners ordering food from me. I have a set menu prepared for all days of the week. I cook two days a week - Sunday and Wednesday. Delivery is done on the same days. I pack food boxes with days of the week marked. Initially I used to do the delivery myself, but now I have a delivery boy," he explained.

    The dishes on his menu include: Chunky Chic, a mix of steamed potatoes, carrots and brown rice topped with a boneless chicken leg, eggshell powder and a splash of olive oil; Jerkey Turkey made of sweet potatoes, zucchini and brown rice topped with Turkey eggshell powder and olive oil a meal containing a mix of steamed veggies, brown rice and salmon bites.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    Latin Kings members admit roles in Newark heroin and cocaine syndicate, AG says.

    The leader of a Newark-based heroin and cocaine ring with ties to the Latin Kings street gang has pleaded guilty along with three others after state authorities brought down their criminal syndicate last year.

    Japhet Lopez, 33, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges on Monday after he was charged as part of "Operation Peddling Misery," a state investigation targeting traffickers of heroin and crack cocaine.

    Authorities say his "right-hand man," 22-year-old Kiele Lopez, also pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. Two others -- Carlos Rodriguez, 35, and Luis Diaz, 27 -- previously pleaded guilty to racketeering and distribution of cocaine in a school zone, respectively.

    The four were accused of participating in the Latin Kings-affiliated ring that "routinely beat its own members as 'discipline' if they disobeyed gang rules or orders from gang leaders," according to a statement from the state Division of Criminal Justice, which handled the case.

    "We're sending the leaders of this gang-run drug ring to prison, where they won't be able to spread addiction in New Jersey with their heroin and cocaine trafficking, or spread gun violence in Newark with their deadly turf battles," state Attorney General Grewal said in a statement announcing the guilty pleas.

    More than a dozen people were indicted following the July 2017 takedown, which followed a surveillance operation in which "hundreds" of sales of wax folds containing heroin were recorded, authorities said.

    Japhet and Kiele Lopez -- along with Rodriguez and three other men -- were also accused of robbing a rival gang member and holding him captive inside a Newark apartment building where they beat him until he escaped during a gunfight after the man's associates came looking for him, authorities said.

    The four men who pleaded guilty face between eight and 15 years in prison apiece. Sentencing is scheduled for May 25.

    S.P. Sullivan may be reached at ssullivan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Montclair filmmaker's 'Bring it to the Table' program brings people face-to-face

    Let's talk.

    Let's talk about how we feel, and what we think. About ...

    Guns. Immigration. Marijuana. Sexual conduct.

    And "What makes America great?"

    Let's learn how people, real people, really feel. Let's get away from listening to the politicians and their strategists, and the lobbyists and those with agendas. You know, all those people so willing to hang labels on themselves and us, too. Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, Pro-this, Anti-that.

    We, the people, know life isn't just red or blue. It's purple. Our thoughts are not defined by black-and-white questions posed by pollsters. They are more nuanced. Gray.  

    So, let's talk. Let's the find common ground our leaders lost along the way.

    This is the simple ambition of Julie Winokur, a Montclair documentary maker.

    She, like many, believe Americans have "shared values" that have been subjugated, even torn asunder, by the divisive political and media rhetoric of our times.

    "I think it's important that the public starts reclaiming issues," she said.

    MORE: Recent Mark Di Ionno columns

    She had this in mind back in 2012 when her son Eli, then 17, told her she was such a hard-core liberal, she would reject any conservative view without really listening. She rolled that over in her mind and considered the fact that her son might be right.

    So, she made a portable kitchen table, covered it with a navy blue cloth adorned with American flag-sized stars and set out across the country to listen to people not like her.

    The result is "Bring it to the Table," a documentary that got into the back roads of America and discovered citizen's political reasoning. Not all, but some.

    For instance, Winokur asks a conservative gay woman how she can support a political party that doesn't support her.

    "I knew I was a conservative long before I knew I was gay," the woman says.

    There is a logic to that not captured by polls that tell us, "gays vote this way," Winokur said.

    "A lot of people who answer polls might be uncomfortable sharing how they really feel," she said, a fact made obvious during the last presidential election. "I'd love to be a fly on the wall at people's dinner tables."

    She did the next best thing. Engaging people in deeper conversation, burrowing into their thinking.

    "We kept asking, 'Why? Why do you feel this way?' " she said. "And you begin to understand their backgrounds and cultures. It brings the issue alive in a personal way."

    Once the film was made, Winokur decided the idea should continue through workshops and live events.

    That ambition heightened during the 2016 presidential election, when the country seemed more polarized than ever in recent history.

    "I saw that people seemed genuinely frightened about the unraveling of our morals and ethics," she said. "It became increasingly difficult for us to put ourselves in someone's else shoes."   

    Thursday night at the Montclair Art Museum, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Winokur is holding what you could call a live performance version of the film.

    Ten tables will be set up for people to sit with strangers to talk - and listen - about some of the pressing issues of today. To spur conversation, several questions are will be suggested, including where a person sees themselves on the political spectrum, how they identify "the problem" around the issue and how the issue has impacted their lives. The final questions ask "What part of the opposing argument makes sense to you? How do we strike a balance?"

    Balance. Compromise. Conversation. Words lost in the hyperventilation of modern political posturing.

    "We give too much prominence to the extremes," Winokur said.

    The "we" in that sentence includes many guilty parties, but the first offender is the media which -- as has been written in this column many times -- exploits our differences rather than explores our similarities.

    "There is a wide middle that is ignored," she said. "The two-party system seems to force us into boxes."

    Lisa and Bill Westheimer of West Orange are funding the Montclair event, in part because, as Lisa Westheimer said, "if we can't talk to each other on a grassroots level, neighbor to neighbor, then there's not much hope."

    She said during the last presidential election she was alarmed how strident, even vicious, people had become over politics.

    "When the election happened, I was so concerned about what was going to happen to our country," she said. "We stopped talking to each other. People became so intolerant."

    She and her husband have a long history of anonymous philanthropy, she said, but wanted to go public with this one, hoping other museums, churches, libraries, civic organizations or community groups would follow.

    "Julie's idea is a good one," Westheimer said. "I'd like to see more institutions get behind it. I'd like to see it going on around the country. We all have to find common ground."

    (For more information on facilitating a program, call 973 746-7040 or go to bringit2thetable.org)

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@starledger.com. Follow The Star-Ledger on Twitter @StarLedger and find us on Facebook.  


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    Snow slowed the start, but the first full week of high school baseball has some interesting match-ups.


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    It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether Karamoko Fatiga was killed during a robbery.

    A 41-year-old East Orange man was gunned down Monday night while trying to deliver Chinese food in a slaying now under investigation by the county's homicide task force.

    In a joint statement, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and East Orange Police Department said Karamoko Fatiga was fatally shot around 8:57 p.m. in the 100 block of Shepherd Avenue while trying to make a delivery.

    The prosecutor's office said no arrests have been made in his killing, which is still under investigation.

    It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether Fatiga's shooting was related to the attempted food delivery.

    Authorities have asked anyone with information about Fatiga's death to call the Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Authorities said his killing is under investigation by the county's homicide task force

    Investigators Tuesday identified a 30-year-old Bayonne man as the victim of a fatal shooting in Irvington on Monday night.

    In a statement, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and the Irvington Police Department said Mina Ghaly was found on the ground with gunshot wounds around 9 p.m. in the 300 block of 21st Street.

    He was pronounced dead 31 minutes later.

    Ghaly's death remains under investigation by the police department and the county's homicide task force. No arrests have been made, authorities said.

    Investigators have asked anyone with information about the shooting to call the Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or1-877-847-7432.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Check out which players have reached the century mark in their careers.


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    Check out the first set of conference players of the week.


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    Who will shine in the 2018 baseball season?


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    Find out if your school made the new list.


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    Senior citizens at Nevada Street Apartments in Newark are upset about living conditions at their building.

    Shirley Mack doesn't want to move from her senior apartment building on Nevada Street in Newark.

    Neither do her neighbors, Gloria Davis and Ann Newsome, as well as other residents who care about living conditions at the Nevada Street Apartments, owned by Jonathan Rose Companies in New York.

    The downtown building is close to bus routes, City Hall and local stores. Its proximity to everything is just one of the features that made life enjoyable for the women in the 19-story complex after they retired.

    The floors were shined. Elevators worked. Residents knew one other. Two security guards were on duty: One was at the front desk, the other patrolled the building.

    MORE: Recent Barry Carter columns  

    But those days, they said, are gone, so they are fighting to reclaim their old lifestyle.

    "We're trying to keep this community going and make it better," said Mack, 75.

    So, what's wrong?

    Living conditions have not improved since September, when they complained to management and the city about problems with overall upkeep and security, and unruly visitors.

    "We thought this would be our resting place before our final resting place," Davis said. "Things have gotten worse."

    The owners, however, disagree.

    "Ownership has invested significantly in property improvements, including the modernization of both elevators," said Eric Gerard, a spokesman for Jonathan Rose Companies. "We are committed to improving the quality of life for our residents and will continue to address their concerns."

    Still, residents said elevators break down. They want two security guards to make them feel safe. With one guard, they said, transient people sneak into the building if the guard is on break or not at the front desk for another reason.

    "I walk around with Mace in my hand," said Newsome, 79. "You're afraid to get on the elevators because of the undesirable people who are in the building."

    There is another problem, however, that seems to be beyond their control -- for now. Seniors do not think they should have to live among younger residents classified as disabled.

    Under legislation passed by Congress in 1991, the classification permits younger people to live in senior citizen buildings. Which means, a disabled tenant could be a recovering addict, a victim of AIDS or have a mental disability, such as depression.

    Newsome said she had to go to court last year because of a resident who had challenges. But she still says she wants to stay in the approximate 300-apartment building.

    "I don't want to move," Newsome said. "I like the building. When I came here, I wanted this to be my last home."

    She's in good health and active as a district leader and secretary of the tenant association. Mack and Davis are members, too.

    The building, they say, has turned into a multi-family dwelling with strangers roaming the halls.

    "I know they (the owners) can't discriminate," Mack said. "But they can be more selective."

    Residents say visitors get high in the apartments, but some of them are senior residents, too. Davis said it's such a problem that the marijuana odor seeps into her unit.

    This is not what they bargained for when they moved here. Mack has been a resident for 13 years; Davis, 14 years, and Newsome, 15 years.

    "This is not what it's supposed to be,'' Davis said.

    All of them try to improve conditions as members of the tenants' association, which is having difficulty getting apathetic residents involved.

    That attitude doesn't discourage the organization, however. Vocal residents stay on the phone when something is wrong. When the elevators broke down regularly last month, the state Department of Community Affairs heard from them. City Hall did, too.

    MORE CARTER: Newark reflects on Dr. King's last visit 50 years ago | Carter

    Frank Baraff, Newark's director of communications, said the city sent code enforcement inspectors there last week after it received complaints that both elevators were not working.

    Mack said the elevators are shaky, and she makes her decision to leave her 17th-floor apartment based on whether they're working. Before both elevators became inoperable last week, Mack said, one elevator was out of service and residents were afraid to ride the other one because it dropped suddenly between floors.

    "It scared the bejesus out of me," she said.

    The elevators have been running fine since the city responded, but residents are not confident, thinking one or both of them will stop.

    Despite their complaints, residents resist the urge to leave and choose to hang in until conditions get better.

    "I have no choice," Davis said.

    "Moving is a hassle," Newsome added.

    Mack's not going anywhere, either.

    "I love my city. I love this building. I have no place to go, so I choose to fight."

    Barry Carter: (973) 836-4925 or bcarter@starledger.com or 

    nj.com/carter or follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL


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    The 19-year-old was charged in the death of a 23-year-old allegedly pushed into a pool in Point Pleasant Beacg

    A judge has dismissed a murder indictment against a woman accused of purposely pushing a friend into the deep end of a motel swimming pool during a night of drinking at a Point Pleasant Beach motel.

    But Jelani Webster will remain jailed without bail for now. State Superior Court Judge James Blaney gave Ocean County prosecutors 20 days to file an appeal of the ruling he issued Tuesday.

    Boy drowns in N.J. hotel pool

    Blaney found grand jurors got misleading information about how much drinking had occurred. He also said many jurors who asked about the difference between murder and manslaughter got inadequate answers and irrelevant information.

    Webster, a 19-year-old East Orange resident, was charged in the death of Anijyah Price, a 23-year-old Newark woman who was the sister of a man she had been dating. Webster's lawyers maintain Price's drowning death last July at the Amethyst's Beach Motel was an accident.

     

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    Despite the lingering effects of winter, the first regular-season rankings are out


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    A look at some of N.J.'s top college athletes in track and field


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